Ralph Carney

Probably best known as Tom Waits' main horn player beginning with Waits' 1985 Rain Dogs album, multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney built an impressive résumé that was both deep and wide. During his multi-decade career, Carney worked with the B-52s, the Black Keys, the Waitresses, David Thomas, Bill Laswell, Victoria Williams, Marc Ribot, Grant Lee Buffalo, Allen Ginsberg, Kathy Acker, and the Oranj Symphonette, and played saxophone, clarinet, and harmonica. However, the banjo was his first love, and he immersed himself in it, along with bluegrass and country blues, as he grew up in Akron, Ohio. As time went on he embraced jazz and rock, and punk in particular; his involvement with the burgeoning Ohio punk scene included a stint with the group Tin Huey. This early eclecticism shaped Carney into a versatile sideman as well as a wide-ranging solo artist, as his 1997 debut Ralph Sounds and 1999 follow-up I Like You (A Lot) proved. Both albums ranged from Krautrock to Dixieland jazz, and featured him playing everything from sax to musical saw to pan pipes. Carney continued recording as a leader and session man into the new millennium, with his own albums including This Is! Ralph Carney in 2003 and Seriously in 2011. In December 2017, Carney died at age 61 in Portland, Oregon after sustaining head injuries from a fall in his home. ~ Heather Phares

  • ORIGIN
    Akron, OH
  • GENRE
    Jazz
  • BORN
    Jan 23, 1956

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